CHICAGO STREET WEAR LEGEND STAYS TRUE TO HIS COMMUNITY WHILE BUILDING HIS BRAND
5/29/2019, noon | Updated on 5/29/2019, noon
Chicago Street Wear Legend Stays True To His Community While Building His Brand
BY KATHERINE NEWMAN
Founder and CEO of PHLI Brand clothing, Dave Jeff, was born and raised in Hyde Park where his deep love for fashion began at a young age. Jeff grew up under the watch of his mother who was his sole provider and according to him was “always on her fresh” which inspired him to try and keep up with changing fashion trends.
“I got to see a lot of different things and fashionable stuff because of my mom and where I grew up so that has always been a Dave Jeff thing I guess, just being fresh or whatever,” said Jeff.
After taking his first job a Benetton in Hyde Park, Jeff continued to work in different retail spaces and eventually landed a job at Tony’s Sports.
“Tony’s Sports was at the forefront of urban fashion,” said Jeff. “Working at the store, I got to see a lot of people that are huge now and met them early on but Tony eventually closed the stores.”
Jeff was able to go work for a friend at another urban fashion boutique where he worked with very unique and limited clothes and shoes that continued to inspire him and his desire to have his own fashion brand. Eventually, Jeff began print PHLI Brand t-shirts and selling them at the store.
“I had already come up with the brand and was loosely talking about PHLI before I ever printed a t-shirt and I spelled it PHLI simply because that’s what was inspiring me at the time,” said Jeff. “Then when I broke it down backward, the letters stood for I Love Hyde Park and I Love Helping People.”
After successfully launching the PHLI Brand, Jeff moved into his own storefront in Hyde Park where he stayed for about 10 years.
“I got my own lease at Harper’s Court and the PHLI Store was there for 10 or 11 years. I was one of the first African American’s to deal with Nike in that way and to have a boutique account with them because there weren’t many black boutiques in Chicago at that time,” said Jeff. “I was learning the business and at the same time, I was giving to the community by doing PHLI Block Parties.”
Throughout his career, Jeff has worked with major shoe brands like K-Swiss, Nike, and most recently Puma as both a retail partner and as an influencer to help them connect with urban fashion consumers.
“Basically Puma and I are married right now,” said Jeff. “Puma has given me a platform to do more and you’ll see that we are going to keep doing more to maximize off their power.”
Today, the PHLI Store in Hyde Park is closed and Jeff now owns the Alpha Space, 2014 S. Michigan Ave., in South Loop where he hosts pop up shops and events.
PHLI Brand recently launched its Spring collection which is available online and at the Alpha Space.
To learn more about PHLI Brand visit www.phliworldwide.com.